Welcome to December, the month described as "the most wonderful time of the year." Seeing the frazzled looks on moms faces I have to ask, "Is it really?"
This is the time of year when our "to-do" list explodes, our time lines are tight and the calendar is
packed with school activities, family visits, parties to attend and shopping to accomplish. Kids are getting excited for the holiday break and parents are in survival mode.
As your parent coach I want to help you not just survive but really enjoy your holiday season.
My goal is to help you overcome stress by making intentional choices for your family. The decisions are based on your vision, values and goals as parents, not on what everyone else says you "should be" doing.
1. Know what is most important to you
Santa isn't the only one making a list and checking it twice! I suggest parents make a list of your family priorities. You can think about what experiences you want to have (and avoid) or what important values you're using as the foundation of your parenting decisions. Couples, this is a great chance to discuss the values you want to instill in your kids!
(If you need help working through this step, let me know! I'm here to help.)
This list will serve as a guide for your parenting decisions. It will also help you make family rules with a strong foundation in values. (For a free copy of "Making Family Rules that Work," click here.)
Holiday version: What are the things you values most?
Is it spending time with extended family? This could mean family traditions and building family memories are strong values you want to pass down to your kids.
Traveling to a new vacation site? This could indicate you value new experiences, learning new things or getting away from the mundane schedule in your life.
Blocking out time each day to just hang out in pj's and play with the kids? I'd say relaxation, fun and bonding time are some of your values.
Brainstorm a list of goals then narrow it down to the top 3-5 things you value most. Every decision will be filtered through the list of values, i.e., "Does this fit into our desire to build memories with the kids?"
2. Say yes on a limited basis
This is where things may get dicey. You may feel obligated to attend all of the parties, family gatherings and church activities. Just because you're invited doesn't mean you have to go! (Remember, the idea is to enjoy the holiday season, not feel resentful and stressed doing all of the things you feel you "should" do.)
Ask yourself, "Does this invitation or activity fit into our list of values and goals we set for this month?"
If yes, then go and have fun! If not, then read #3 below.
3. Be okay with setting boundaries
The holidays are filled with things we "should" be doing, things that fulfill other people's agendas for us. When we are stressed we aren't enjoying the things we want to enjoy (such as a quiet day in pj's with the kids having a movie marathon).
So, how do we do this and not hurt other's feelings or make them mad? Well, here's the deal, you can't control how others react to your decision. All you can do is do what's best for your family.
If you know something doesn't fit into your family values and goals for the holidays, then it's okay to say, "No, thanks, that just won't fit into our schedule this time, but we really appreciate the invitation."
Yes, it's hard to do this! Trust me, I know. I'm a people pleaser who felt I needed to make sure each set of grandparents had equal time with the kids. This was back in the days of no entertainment systems in the car, 3 kids in car seats and 6 hours (one way) with me being car sick trying to keep them entertained. Not a recipe for "happy holidays!"
It wasn't until one year I was just exhausted and told everyone we wouldn't be traveling in for both Thanksgiving and Christmas because it was just too much with 3 kids twice in 4 weeks.
While I dreaded making that decision and I knew that our little branch of the family would be missed, it took so much pressure off of us at the start of the holiday season. We had to decide what was best for us, what fit into our values. Funny thing is, neither set of grandparents put that pressure on me, I did that one to myself assuming if we didn't do the trips everyone would be upset (face palm).
You may experience push back for setting boundaries. You'll experience family members who have very strong opinions of how you "should" be doing things. While it is hard to hear, remind yourself that you are the leader(s) of your family and you need to decide what's best for you and the kids. You deserve a less stressed holiday, if that bothers others then that's on them.
4. Say yes to your relationship
I always recommend parents make their relationship a priority. When parents are in a good place, being respectful and kind towards each other, and building up their partnership, it sets such a strong model for kids!
It doesn't have to be a big event or something expensive (who has extra funds right before the holidays?). Date night may be some quiet time in front of the fireplace after the kids are in bed. Maybe instead of date night, the two of you make breakfast together on a Saturday morning. Whatever it is, nurture your relationship and it'll help weather the storms that come your way (during the holidays or any time!).
I hope these tips help you to reduce your stress and truly make some happy memories this holiday season! Merry Christmas from my home to yours!
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Image by annca from Pixabay